Metcalf v. Watertown
153 U.S. 671 (1894)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Metcalf v. Watertown, 153 U.S. 671 (1894)

Metcalf v. Watertown

No. 18

Argued April 18, 1894

Decided May 14, 1894

153 U.S. 671

Syllabus

The right of action upon a judgment or decree of a court of record of the United States sitting within the State of Wisconsin is limited by the Revised Statutes of that state of 1858 to twenty years after the cause of action accrued.

This was an action brought June 29, 1883, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Western District of Wisconsin by a citizen of Ohio, the assignee of certain persons who were assignees in different proportions of a judgment for the sum of $10,207.86, recovered April 9, 1866, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Wisconsin, by a citizen of Tennessee against a municipal corporation of Wisconsin. The petition having been amended (in accordance with the opinion delivered by this Court when the case was before it at a former term, and reported in 128 U. S. 128 U.S. 586) by showing that this plaintiff's assignors were citizens of other states than Wisconsin, the defendant answered that the cause of action did not arise within ten years before this action was brought, and that the action was therefore barred by the statute of limitations of Wisconsin. The case having been submitted to the circuit court for trial without a jury, that court, on August 2, 1889, so held, and having filed findings of fact and conclusions of law, rendered judgment for the defendant. The plaintiff sued out this writ of error.

The Revised Statutes of Wisconsin of 1849, c. 127, § 41, applied one limitation to all judgments of courts of record within the United States, as follows:

"Every judgment and decree in any court of record of the United States, or of any state or territory of the United States, shall be presumed to be paid and satisfied at the expiration of twenty years after the judgment or decree was rendered. "

Page 153 U. S. 672

The Revised Statutes of 1858, c. 138, contain the following provisions:

"SEC 1. Civil actions can only be commenced within the periods prescribed in this chapter, except when in special cases a different limitation is prescribed by statute."

"SEC. 14. The periods prescribed in section one of this chapter for the commencement of actions other than for the recovery of real property shall be as follows:"

"SEC. 15. Within twenty years: 1. An action upon a judgment or decree of any court of record of this state. 2. An action upon a sealed instrument, when the cause of action accrues within this state."

"SEC. 16. Within ten years: 1. An action upon a judgment or decree of any court of record of any state or territory within the United States, or of any court of the United States. 2. An action upon a sealed instrument, when the cause of action accrued without this state."

In the Revised Statutes of 1878, §§ 4220, 4221, the language of the provisions as to actions on judgments is modified so as to include in the limitation of twenty years "an action upon a judgment or decree of any court of record of this state, or of the United States, sitting within this state," and to confine the limitation of ten years to

"an action upon a judgment or decree of any court of record of any other state or territory of the United States, or of any court of the United States sitting without this state."

By reason of a saving clause in § 4984, the case at bar is not governed by these statutes, but by the statutes of 1858.

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